Seaboard Foods settles HSUS complaint

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. – Seaboard Foods altered some language on its website, thus ending a legal complaint lodged by The Humane Society of the United States against the company regarding animal handling claims and its use of gestation crates.

“While we are confident in our practices, we have worked closely and collaboratively with the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] to update a limited amount of language on our website to ensure that there is no confusion or misinterpretation,” the company said in a statement. “We are happy that this matter has been resolved without formal FTC action and look forward to working closely with regulatory agencies to address any concerns quickly and constructively.”

In 2012, HSUS lodged complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Seaboard made “false and misleading animal welfare statements” surrounding the use of gestation crates. The complaints came after the group released an undercover video that depicted animal abuses at two pork production facilities in Oklahoma, one owned by Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based Seaboard Foods. The activist group claimed the video and the company's use of gestation stalls contradicted statements on Seaboard Foods’ website claiming its animal welfare programs are sound. Seaboard Foods disputed the abuse allegations.

“Seaboard Foods remains committed to always acting with integrity and conducting business in an ethical and legal manner,” the company said. “We are proud of our track record and stand committed to the proper and humane treatment of the animals in our care.”

The HSUS acknowledged Seaboard’s move to alter its online advertising, but condemned the use of gestation crates.

“While we are pleased that Seaboard has been forced to abandon its misleading online advertising, it would be better if the company had changed its actual practices,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations for The HSUS. “Seaboard is still confining animals in small cages where they can’t even turn around, contrary to good science, common sense and consumers’ desire for better treatment of animals.”

But The HSUS isn't stopping at Seaboard. The HSUS also filed a legal complaint with the FTC regarding "Responsible Farming", a report by the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.

The group claims the organizations are in violation of FTC rules because the report authored by the groups "fails to point out that many of the individuals presented only as endorsing farmers in the report in fact have a vested interest in the programs they tout, as they are past or present officers or employees of NPB and NPPC."

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